If you do [something like this], it will result in [something like this]!
Everybody, including you, is pretty familiar with this phrase or statement, as it represents the beginning of a scientific paper or a project. However, this statement is nothing but a hypothesis. It resembles your thought of what will happen while or after performing the experiments. Moreover, this statement can be curated only based on knowledge, facts, and data you already possess.
A hypothesis is one of the essential elements of a scientific research paper. It is an assumption or idea built on your understanding of evidence and requires you to prove it via relevant facts and examples.
A hypothesis is an indication of the expected results of an experiment. In scientific methods, a hypothesis is used as a foundation for future research. Once you fully understand the concept behind the hypothesis and its appropriate structure, you will not find it harder to create. However, if it is the first time you are an early-stage researcher, then it might become an exhausting and frustrating task. In this article, you will learn everything from scratch, i.e., what a hypothesis is, its types, and practical tips to write one.
A hypothesis is an assumption or perhaps a tentative explanation for a specific process or phenomenon that has been observed during research. Very often, a hypothesis and a guess are treated the same. However, a hypothesis is a calculated and educated guess proven or disproven through research methods.
Based on the facts and evidence you gather during research, you can transform an initial research question into a logical & rational prediction i.e. the hypothesis. Every research is conducted to solve a specific problem. To fulfill that, one has to undertake the route of problem identification, conduct initial research and then, figure out the answer by performing various experiments and observing its outcome. However, before conducting the experiments or the surveys related to the research, you must understand and acknowledge what you expect from the results. At this point, you are supposed to make your educated and calculated hypothesis and translate it into a scientific statement that you will be either proving or refuting within the course of your study.
A hypothesis reflects your understanding of the problem statement and as a form of development of knowledge. Therefore, you need to articulate your hypothesis in a way that should appear as a justifiable assumption to study the properties and causes of the phenomenon in the research topic.
Characteristics and Sources of Hypotheses:
Now that you have gained pretty much an idea about a hypothesis, it's time that you understand its characteristics.
- A research hypothesis has to be simple yet clear to look reliable and justifiable enough.
- It has to be precise about the results.
- A research hypothesis should be written in a self-explanatory manner with its significance staying intact.
- If you are developing a relational hypothesis, you need to include the variables and establish an appropriate relationship among them.
- A hypothesis must keep and reflect the scope for further investigations and experiments.
Similar to the characteristics of a research hypothesis, there exist many sources through which you can hypothesize your research problem. The primary sources that you can refer to while creating a hypothesis for your research are:
- Scientific paper and theories from the domain of your research topic.
- Observations from previous experiments and recent theories
- A general paradigm that runs through the research domain of a specific topic
- Resemblance and relativity among various research topics
While going through these sources, you must ensure all the sources are credible and scholarly.
Types of Hypotheses
To create a good hypothesis, you need to understand the concept of hypotheses completely. Therefore, before starting to write, it is important that you first understand the different types of hypotheses.
Majorly, there exist only two types, i.e., the Alternative hypothesis and Null Hypothesis.
1. Alternative Hypothesis
In the academic domain, it is very often denoted as H1. The significance of this kind is to identify the expected outcome of your research procedure. Additionally, it is further classified into two subcategories:
a. Directional: A statement that defines the ways through which the expected results will be gathered. It is generally used in the cases where you need to establish a relationship between various variables rather than making any comparison between multiple groups. For example, Attending physiotherapy sessions will improve the on-field performance of athletes.
b. No directional: As the name suggests, a non-directional alternative hypothesis doesn't suggest any direction for the expected outcomes. For example, Attending physiotherapy sessions influence the on-field performance of athletes.
Now in the above two examples, carefully observe the two statements. The directional statement specifies that physiotherapy sessions will improve or boost performance. On the other hand, the non-directional statement helps establish a correlation between the two variables (physiotherapy sessions and performance). However, it does not emphasize whether the performance will be good or bad due to physiotherapy sessions.
2. Null Hypothesis
A null hypothesis is denoted as H0. A null hypothesis exists as opposed to an alternative hypothesis. It is a statement that defines the opposite of the expected results or outcomes throughout your research. In simpler terms, a null hypothesis is used to establish a claim that no relationship exists between the variables defined in the hypothesis.
To give you an idea about how to write a null hypothesis, the last example can be stated as:
The physiotherapy sessions do not affect athletes' on-field performance.
Both the null and alternative hypotheses are written to provide specific clarifications and examination of the research problem. So, to clarify confusion, the difference between a research problem statement and a hypothesis is that the former is just a question that can't be validated or tested. In contrast, the latter can be tested, validated, or denied.
3. Simple Hypothesis
It is a statement that is made to reflect the relation between the dependent and independent variables. Follow through the example, and you will understand,
a. Smoking is a prominent cause of lung cancer
b. Intake of sugar-rich foods can lead to obesity
4. Complex Hypothesis
A complex hypothesis implies the relationship between multiple dependent or independent variables stated in the research problem. Follow through the below examples for better clarity on this:
a. Individuals who eat more fruits tend to have higher immunity, lesser cholesterol, and high metabolism.
b. Including short breaks during work hours can lead to higher concentration and boost productivity.
5. Empirical Hypothesis
It is also referred to as the "Working Hypothesis." This type of claim is made when a theory is being validated through an experiment and observation. This way, the statement appears justifiable enough and different from a wild guess.
Here are a few examples through which you can learn to create an empirical hypothesis:
a. Women who take iron tablets face a lesser risk of anemia than those women who take vitamin B12.
b. Canines learn faster if they are provided with food immediately after they obey a command.
6. Statistical Hypothesis
A statement claiming an explanation after studying a sample of the population is called a statistical hypothesis. It is a type of logic-based analysis where you research a specific population and gather evidence through a particular sample size.
Below are some hypothetical statistical statements to understand how you can conduct your research leveraging statistical data :
a. 44% of the Indian population belong in the age group of 22-27
b. 47% of the rural population in India is involved in agro-based activities.
Difference between Hypothesis and Prediction
Hypothesis and prediction are very often used interchangeably, and that creates confusion. Although both the hypothesis and prediction can be treated as guesses, there lies much difference between the two terms. Since we are talking about research hypotheses and in the context of the academic domain, the words bear much relevance here. Therefore it is forbidden to use hypotheses for prediction or otherwise. So, the significant difference between a hypothesis and a prediction is that the first is predominantly used in the academic world related to research on various topics. In contrast, prediction can be used anywhere and need not be validated, defined, or tested.
In simpler terms, a hypothesis is a calculated, intelligent assumption tested and validated through research. It aims to analyze the gathered evidence and facts to define a relationship between variables and put forth a logical explanation behind the nature of events.
On the other hand, predictions are vague assumptions or claims made without backing data or evidence. You can test it and have to wait to check if the prediction will become true or not. Although a prediction can be even scientific majorly, it is seen that predictions are somewhat fictional, not based on data or facts. Predictions are more often observed as a foretelling of any future event that may or may not ever happen.
To emphasize in a better manner the difference between a hypothesis and a prediction, follow through the below-mentioned example:
Hypothesis: Having smaller and frequent meals can lead to a higher metabolism rate.
This is a pure scientific hypothesis based on previous knowledge and the trends that have been observed in many individuals. Additionally, it can be tested by putting some individuals under observation.
Prediction: There will be zero COVID-19 cases in the world by 2030.
Now, this is a prediction. Even though it is based on definite facts and the trends of past results, it can't be tested with certainty for success or failure. So the only way this gets validated is to wait and watch if the covid cases end by 2030.
How to Write a Hypothesis?
Attentively follow through the below-mentioned steps that you can leverage to create a compelling hypothesis for your research.
1. Identify and Clearly Describe your Research Question
A hypothesis should be written in a way that should address the research question or the problem statement. You first need to understand the constraints of your undertaken research topic and then formulate a clear, simple, and topic-centered problem statement. Once you have the problem statement, you can ask the right question to test the validity of the problem statement or research question. For answering a research question, there should be a hypothetical statement that you should prove through your research.
For example: How does attending physiotherapy sessions can affect an athlete's on-field performance?
2. Carry Out an Initial Preliminary Research
At this stage, you need to go through the previous theories, academic papers, and previous studies and experiments to start curating your research hypothesis. Next, you must gather evidence and prepare a research methodology to carry out your experiments. Here itself, try figuring out the answer to the research question.
You need to design a conceptual and rational framework to identify which variables.
(both dependent and independent) over which your hypothesis will focus. Additionally, you need to discover the relationship between various variables.
3. Make the First Draft of your Hypothesis
After undertaking and finalizing the initial research, you will get an idea about the expected outcomes and results. Leveraging this, you need to create a simple, concise, and first version of your hypothesis.
Depending upon the chosen research domain and its topic, you can rephrase the answer to the problem statement via a hypothesis in specific ways.
a. Non- directional: Attending physiotherapy sessions will influence the on-field performance of athletes.
b. Directional: Attending physiotherapy sessions will boost the on-field performance of athletes.
c. Null: Attending physiotherapy sessions will not affect the on-field performance of athletes.
4. Skim your Hypothesis
After preparing the first draft of your hypothesis, you need to check whether the hypothesis addresses the problem statement or not. You need to ensure that the hypothesis statement is straightforward-focused on the research topic and is testable. To further refine your first draft of the hypothesis, you must check the presence of some aspects in your hypothesis:
a. It has clear, relevant, and defined variables.
b. An appropriate relationship exists between the variables.
c. It is accurate and signifies its capacity to go under testing and validation.
d. It must showcase a specific result or outcome through certain experiments.
5. Create a 3-Dimensional Phrase of your Hypothesis Statement
To appropriately recognize the various variables to be used, you can write the hypothetical assumption in the "if..then" form. Here, you must ensure that the first part of the hypothesis should contain the independent variable and the second part should contain the dependent variable.
For example, if athletes start attending physiotherapy sessions, then their on-field performance will improve.
It's common in the academic domain to present the hypothesis in terms of correlation and its effects. If you choose to use this form of phrase as a research hypothesis, make sure that you state the predefined relationship between the variables.
For example, Attending physiotherapy sessions lead to the better on-field performance of athletes.
In another way, you can choose to present your hypothesis as a comparison between two variables. Also, you must specify the difference that you expect to observe in the results.
For example, Athletes attending physiotherapy sessions will have better on-field performance than those who never attend any physiotherapy sessions.
6. Create a Null Hypothesis
If your research procedure involves some statistical hypothesis testing, you need to provide a null hypothesis statement. As previously discussed, a null hypothesis is used to represent or show no relation between different variables.
For example, attending physiotherapy sessions does not affect the on-field performance of athletes.
Quick Tips on How to Write a Hypothesis
Follow the below-mentioned points to find some pro tips that you must keep in mind for writing a good hypothesis.
- Always try to create a hypothesis that interestingly addresses the problem statement.
- Keep the hypothesis statement short yet entirely focused over the problem statement phrased in an utmost clear and concise manner.
- Make sure the initial research has been done thoroughly, and you have gone through all the relevant scholarly sources related to your chosen research topic.
- Accurately define the variables that you will be using in the hypothesis, and through the course of the research,
- Always keep your audience in your mind while creating any statements or paraphrasing any related theories. In academia, the audience being the researchers and scholars, bear the knowledge of the relationship that exists between various phenomena and experiments.
A hypothesis is just a statement representing your understanding of the answer to the problem statement of the research. It showcases how you will proceed with the experiments to test the hypothesis and interpret the expected outcome.